Took A Great Fall
A Short Story by
the children’s nursery rhyme about Humpty-Dumpty, my Benjo-man
Hakata Doll recently took a great fall and was smashed to smithereens. My wife and I were heart-broken as we
loved this beautiful Hakata Doll that I had purchased during my Navy duty in
Sasebo, Japan, in the 1960’s.
doll was lovingly displayed on a tatami pad on the
top of a 3 piece Japanese tansu in the foyer of our
home. While working in my study I
was distracted from my work by a terrible crashing sound in the foyer. I rushed to the foyer to find my
beautiful Benjo-man Doll lying on the floor-smashed
into many pieces of varying size. Regrettably,
my wife, Diane, had stumbled against the tansu and
toppled the doll. My first thought was how, if ‘all the King’s horses and all the King’s
men cannot put Humpty-Dumpty together again' could the Benjo-man be put together again.
Displayed on Tansu
|| Pieces of Broken Doll
collected the many fragments of the doll, saved them in a shoe box, and after
weeks of grieving decided it was time for action. I began the search for a person who
could put the doll together again; I searched the Internet for days, but could
not find a similar doll to buy, nor anyone advertising repair services. My hopes were beginning to fade when I
recalled the one person who can do miracles, my friend of many years, Harumi Okochi of RyokanYoyokaku in Karatsu, Japan.
sent Harumi-san an email describing my plight. She replied that such a doll was not to
be found and that I was probably confusing my doll with a girl doll doing Shiokumi (ladling sea water into buckets to make
salt). On further investigation
with the Association of Hakata Doll artists, Harumi-san confirmed that the doll
was, indeed, a Benjo-man, not a Shiokumi
Doll, and that the doll was created by the late Hakata Ningyo
artist, Hiroki Nakamura.
Harumi-san took the doll, which I had previously sent to her, to the home
of Mr. KuniakiTakeyoshi, Chairman of
the Hakata Doll Industry Association, in Fukuoka. She described him as a very nice and
kind gentleman. Mr. Takeyoshi agreed to repair the Benjo-man
| Mr. Kuniaki Takeyoshi
weeks later, Harumi-san returned to Fukuoka to pick up the repaired doll and
ship it to me. We were so excited
to see the repaired Benjo-man - he looks better than
ever. We are happy to have him
whole again and back in our home; he now stands on a more stable surface. We are so deeply indebted to Harumi-san
for her perseverance in finding Mr. Takeyoshi and to
Mr. Takeyoshi for being such a skilled artisan. Together they did what all the King’s
horses and all the King’s men could not do.
and Diane with Repaired Benjo-man Doll
In olden days this person would fill his buckets from sewage tanks and use the material
as fertilizer on the fields.
wish to thank Mrs. Barbara Spigel for proof reading
this article. THS